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Quarantine Updates: The CDC Says 5 Days in Isolation is Enough

Quarantine Updates: The CDC Says 5 Days in Isolation is Enough

Previously, if you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19, you need to finish 10 to 14 days of isolation whether or not you have symptoms. Now, though, authorities have issued another set of guidelines. How many days should you stay isolated? Are there exemptions when you’re fully vaccinated? What if you’re an inbound traveler? Learn more about the quarantine updates here.

Quarantine Updates: New CDC Recommendation Shortens Isolation for the General Population

On December 27, 2021, the Center for Disease Control announced the modified quarantine and isolation policy for the general population. If you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19, you only need to stay in isolation for 5 days (instead of 10) provided that you don’t have symptoms. Another caveat is that the patient should strictly wear a mask for a minimum of another 5 days.

The CDC underscores that their decision is “motivated by science.”

Based on what we know so far, the SARS-CoV-2 virus – including the Omicron variant – is transmissible 1 to 2 days before and 2 to 3 days after the onset of symptoms.

Now, if you develop a fever, you need to continue isolation until the fever resolves.

The policy applies to the general population regardless of vaccination status.

Quarantine Updates for People Exposed to COVID-19

What if you didn’t test positive, but were exposed to an infected patient? As per the CDC quarantine updates, the need for isolation depends on your vaccination status:

  • If you’re not yet vaccinated or are six months out of your 2nd mRNA dose (2 months out for J&J), you need to isolate for 5 days and strictly wear masks for another 5 days. Now, if isolation is not possible, the exposed should wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days whenever they’re around people.
  • If you have received your booster shot, you don’t need to be isolated. However, you need to strictly wear your mask for 10 days when around others.

The best thing to do after exposure is to get tested on day 5. If symptoms occur, isolate immediately and get tested if possible.

Quarantine Policy in the Philippines

The CDC may have eased its quarantine policies, but its quarantine updates do not apply yet to the Philippines. After all, the rates of vaccination in the countries are different.

As of this writing, more than 60% of people in the United States are fully vaccinated and they are also quickly working on booster shots. The Philippines, on the other hand, has yet to reach 50%.

Below are the current quarantine and isolation policies based on your symptoms:

  • Asymptomatic: Isolate for at least 10 days after receiving your positive test result. If you remain asymptomatic, you may end your isolation; no need for re-testing.
  • Mild: Isolate for at least 10 days after receiving your positive test result. If you remain not having symptoms or are clinically recovered in the past 3 days, you may end your isolation. Re-testing is not necessary, but a doctor should give you clearance.
  • Moderate, Severe, and Critical: Isolate for at least 21 days from the onset of symptoms in the hospital. If you remain not having symptoms or are clinically recovered in the past 3 days, you may end your isolation. Re-testing is not necessary, but a doctor should give you clearance.

Note that the quarantine updates for inbound travelers are different. Based on the IATF guidelines, fully vaccinated travelers should undergo a 5-day facility-based quarantine and an RT-PCR test at the end of their quarantine period.

Key Takeaways

The US Center for Disease Control issued a modified quarantine policy for the general population. From 10 days, COVID-positive patients are now only required to isolate for 5 days, so long as they are asymptomatic and will strictly wear a mask for another 5 days when around people. However, this policy is not yet recommended here in the Philippines.

More on Health News here.

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Sources

CDC Updates and Shortens Recommended Isolation and Quarantine Period for General Population, https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/s1227-isolation-quarantine-guidance.html, Accessed December 29, 2021

DO I NEED TO FINISH MY 14-DAY QUARANTINE IF I AM A CLOSE CONTACT THAT TESTED NEGATIVE FOR COVID-19?, https://doh.gov.ph/node/29578, Accessed December 29, 2021

DEPARTMENT CIRCULAR No. 2021 – @i22, https://doh.gov.ph/sites/default/files/health-update/dc2021-0122.pdf, Accessed December 29, 2021

IATF sets new testing, quarantine rules for inbound travelers, https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1161670, Accessed December 29, 2021

Philippines, https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/countries-and-territories/philippines/, Accessed December 29, 2021

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Mar 06
Medically reviewed by Dexter Macalintal, MD